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NIU alumni to speak on overcoming challenges

September 26, 2011
NIU alumni Scott and Joan Bolzan

NIU alumni Scott and Joan Bolzan

If every memory you ever created suddenly ceased to exist, what would you change in your life?

Northern Illinois University alumni Scott and Joan Bolzan will visit their alma mater to deliver an inspiring presentation based on their book “My Life, Deleted: A Memoir.”

The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.

On the morning of Dec. 17, 2008, Scott slipped on an oily substance in his office bathroom, causing him to fall and smash his head on the hard floor below. With a laceration deep enough to reveal his skull, Scott was rushed to a hospital, where it was discovered that he was not only losing blood, he was losing his memory.

Doctors initially believed his condition was a temporary setback, but as the days and weeks passed, his condition went unchanged. Scott suffered a rare and debilitating condition known as retrograde amnesia. His memory would never return.

With his wife Joan by his side, Scott was faced with the unenviable goal of relearning every moment of his past, which included rebuilding the relationships he created with his friends, parents, wife and children.

Meanwhile, Joan bore the load of becoming the sole financial supporter and decision maker for their family.

Although the struggles they encountered were challenging, the Bolzans are now professional speakers who share with audiences their story of overcoming life’s obstacles.

“We are not only thrilled to be on campus again, but we’re so excited to gain a relationship with current students by sharing our story. We once walked the same paths that they’re walking now,” Joan said. “When we were at NIU, we had our entire future ahead of us – we thought we had a solid plan for success.”

Instead, they learned there is no planning for the unforeseen.

“We hope to share our insight with current students,” Joan said. “With every obstacle there is opportunity, and your connections, relationships and friends that are formed at NIU will impact the rest of your life.”

As an NIU student, Scott enjoyed success as an offensive lineman for the Huskies, earning First Team All Mid-America Conference Offensive Lineman and All-American honorable mention. He was drafted by the NFL’s New England Patriots in 1984, but injuries shortened his professional football career. He was inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.

Joan excelled as a competitive gymnast and head cheerleading coach during her time on campus. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the NIU School of Nursing in 1988.

“Our students have a chance to hear a story of overcoming tremendous odds from two remarkable alumni,” said Jill Zambito, director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development. “Their presentation will be student-centered and include stories from their time here at NIU.”

For more information, call (815) 753-1421 or email [email protected].